The 10-Point Must (10/2/13)
By Brendhan Conlan on October 2, 2013
10. Lyoto Machida vs. Mark Munoz
It’s unfortunate in general when a competitor has to be replaced on short notice but, likewise, it’s also hard to complain when the situation produces a match-up like Machida/Munoz. It’s the type of tilt that could go the distance with a closely-contested decision or one ending in the opening round of action. Munoz’s blend of wrestling and one-punch power have given plenty of opponents trouble before, but then again he only has three weeks to prepare for one of the most unique fighters on the entire roster. Throw in the fact Machida is finally moving down to 185 pounds where he feels he’s better suited weight-wise, not to mention the contendership implications involved, and you’ve got a “must see” scrap on the radar.
9. Nate Diaz’s Strange Request
When Diaz sent out a Tweet stating he needed to attend his high school reunion the weekend he was supposed to fight Gray Maynard fans weren’t sure if the message was serious or a joke. Some clarification surfaced last week when Diaz’s manager making the point Diaz wants to hold off on meeting with Maynard until UFC on FOX 9 based on the event’s proximity to the fighter’s home base. If it was Nick acting out, the behavior might be a bit more understandable, but Nate’s decision to play diva is concerning. He’s always been a bit more level-headed than his big brother but trying to match-make when you’ve been handed a co-headlining slot is straight up silly.
8. Sergio Pettis’ Signing
Fans who pay attention to results from smaller shows were familiar with Sergio’s skill before his name showed up as the UFC’s newest acquisition. The little brother of lightweight champion Anthony Pettis has been destroying competition on the regional scene for the past few years. The potential-laden Pettis is an instant injection of excitement into a relatively thin flyweight division and, at the age of 20, is likely to be a force at 125 pounds for a long time.
7. Cat Zingano’s Health Woes
The rivalry between UFC bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey and title-contender Miesha Tate has played out nicely on TUF 18 thus far. However, Tate never would have been in place to challenge for Rousey’s title or showcase her coaching skills on the Ultimate Fighter had Cat Zingano not shredded her knee shortly before taping was set to begin. Unfortunately, Zingano suffered a recent setback when she potentially tore her meniscus while rehabbing from the initial injury and won’t be ready to return for another six months. At 8-0, and with her exciting knockout of Tate in April, Zingano can’t get back in the Octagon fast enough.
6. Michael Bisping’s Injury
Bisping has been a villain of sorts since first showing up in the UFC but even his biggest detractors are hoping he’ll make a full recovery after suffering a detached retina while training for an October match-up with Mark Munoz. Based on the prognosis, Bisping has to avoid contact with the eye until early 2014 and should be back in action in six months or so. It’s one thing when talking about a broken bone or torn ligament but something as sensitive as an eye is a different story altogether. Hopefully he ultimately overcomes an injury a handful of his peers have endured, showing back up as strong as ever when he takes to the Octagon next year.
5. Tim Kennedy’s Approach
You’ve got to admire Kennedy for being proactive when he found out foe Lyoto Machida had been pulled from their pairing after being tabbed as a replacement for a different fight. The decorated military veteran went on Twitter and not only called out a number of his peers but did so in an entertaining fashion. Kennedy ended up with Rafael Natal, a suitable opponent to be sure, but more importantly he boosted his UFC stock by handling things with a sense of humor and willingness to accept any scrap sent his way.
4. A Deadline for Dominick Cruz
Yesterday marked the two-year anniversary of bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz’s last title-defense. As fans know, Cruz has been sidelined for health-related reasons with the most serious involving back-to-back ACL tears. Since going down, interim title-holder Renan Barao has established himself as a near-flawless force in the Octagon. At some point, the UFC needs to make a decision about when to remove the “interim” tag from Barao’s belt. Two years is a ridiculously long time to be out regardless of reason and there’s no question Barao, who grew up in poverty, could use the financial boost of being the main man. If Cruz can’t make it back into the cage in the next 4-6 months, he needs to be stripped of his strap despite the unfortunate circumstances dictating the matter.
3. Ryan Couture’s Cut
The UFC recently set a slew of scrappers free from their contracts including Ryan Couture. While on the surface it may seem as though Couture got a bum deal due to his father – UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture – having an issue with upper-management, his performances in the cage argue otherwise. He looked sharp for a few minutes against Ross Pearson but ultimately got outclassed, then lost a decision to Al Iaquinta who hadn’t been in the Octagon for over a year prior to their pairing. Also, it’s easy to forget Couture won a controversial decision over K.J. Noons in his final Strikeforce fight. The reality is, Couture is 31 years old but only 6-3 as a pro. He needs time to develop his skills after coming into the sport late, not a spot on the sport’s biggest stage.
2. The Death of Leandro Souza
Facts are still coming to light in the case of Brazilian fighter Leandro Souza’s death. However, what is known is that he received an opportunity to fight for Shooto on short notice and had to shed more than 30 pounds in a week. To assist in the process, he apparently took a number of diuretic pills and ultimately passed out in the sauna while cutting the final amount of weight for the bout. The 26-year would never recover. Though his gym – Nova Uniao – has spun the situation as a stroke it’s hard to dismiss the effect losing so much weight in such a short span might have had on his body. Also worth mentioning, Nova Uniao’s head honcho Andre Pederneiras also happens to be the President of Shooto in Brazil. If nothing else, his death should not only open eyes to what fighters on the regional scene are subjected to but also the way Brazil’s regulatory system handles pre-fight drug testing. It’s a sad situation and, apparently, one that never needed to play out.
1. B.J. Penn as a Featherweight
It looked like the first ballot Hall of Famer would be returning to the UFC as a lightweight if at all before Penn surprised the world by revealing he was headed down to 145 pounds. Penn’s main motivation for the move relates to his desire to try and avenge two losses to Frankie Edgar. Even worse, he’s not all that likely to stick around in the division for long assuming he doesn’t retire for good in the wake of another defeat. For a man who fought at welterweight for most of his career in hopes of avoiding the rigors of dieting, competing at featherweight is a head-scratcher and not something fans were calling for in the least bit. Sadly, I fear “The Prodigy” is on the cusp of further tarnishing a brilliant career in which he’s been his own worst enemy.
Though the recent shift in strategy around these parts has been difficult, rest assured the importance of the 5 OZ community hasn’t been forgotten or their plethora of thought-provoking opinions either. From here on out, the 10-Point Must will make a weekly appearance where I’ll give my thoughts on ten topics from the past seven days with hopes the readership will contribute their takes as well in the Comments section. This time around, subjects range from the future of a few fighters to some recently-booked rumbles to the tragic death of Leandro Souza. (Photos by USA Today Sports Images)
Front-Page Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
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